Sunday, December 8, 2013

Boston, USA

Executive summary by darmansjah

BOSTON is America’s revolutionary town – for centuries it was the cultural and academic epicenter of the United States. This grand old dame of a city has daring museums, world-leading universities and some of the most progressive politics in the country.

Autumn is the time to catch New England’s legendary autumn foliage in all its glory. Harbourfest in July is a week-long independence Day celebration, while October heralds the Head of the Charles Regatta.

Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore to Boston with a transit in London, while Delta Airlines flies from Singapore to Boston, and transits in Tokyo. Visitors from Malaysia can also take Delta Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Boston, with a transit in Seoul. Take the inexpensive metro, which can bring one to almost everywhere within the city.

The ICA is Boston’s showpiece contemporary museum of art a striking glass building jutting above the waterfront. As well as housing installations and sculptures, the building’s theatre regularly hosts performance art showcases (100 Northern Avenue; closed Mon; admission US$16).

The Freedom Trail is two-and-a-half miles of revolutionary history. Beginning at Boston Common, the tour concludes at the USS Constitution – a frigate that fought off the British in the wars of indepence. Take in the views from the Bunker Hill Monument.

Boston’s 34 Harbor islands are a welcome retreat from the urban hubbub. Visit Georges Island’s Fort Warren or Little Brewster island’s Boston Light lighthouse. Seasonal ferry services run from Boston Long Wharf North (ferries from US$14).

Cambridge is home to two academic juggernauts – HARVARD UNIVERSITY and MIT. Leafy, café-lined squares and stately mansions belie the area’s history as a hotbed of progressive politics. HARVARD operates free tours of its campus.

A Venetian-style palazzo houses the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, with a remarkable art collection including works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Also, if your name is Isabella, you get in for free  (280 The Fenway: US$13).

Providing a master-class in baking, Flour implores its customers to eat dessert first –cakes, brownies and cookies could well distract those popping in to lunch on gourmet sandwiches and pizzas at its canteen-like tables (12 Farnswoth St; cookies from US$2)

Oleana, a pan-Mediterranean restaurant that’s situated in the neighbourhood of Inman Square, takes its inspiration from the cuisine of Greece and Morocco. The innovative range of meze options lead the charge on the menu (134 Hampshire St; meze dishes from US$5).

Giacomo’s Ristorante is a worthy ambassador for southern Italian gastronomy. Its no-frills dishes nonetheless arrive in generous portions – try the zuppa di pesce, a dish involving shrimp, scallops, calamari and lobster (355 Hanover St; mains from US$14).

The dimunitive Ten Tables only has a handful of  covers. The emphasis is on the kitchen, which makes the most of seasonal produce, with seafood given prominence – try the pan-seared bluefish with roasted Jerusalem artichokes (597 Centre St; mains from US$20).

Sportello bills itself as a modern reinvention of a classic diner, serving up sophisticated soups and salads at lunch, with decadent polenta and pasta dishes in the evening (348 Congress St; mains from US$20).

MBTA operates buses within Boston – routes can be confusing. So check their website’s journey palnner (standard fare US$1.60). Boston’s subway system is America’s oldest, with four lines extending into the city’s suburbs (from US$2).

BEACON INN is spread over two 19th-century brownstone buildings in Boston’s leafy suburb of Brookline. Rooms are named after a Boston landmark, personality or neighbourhood. Dark-wood paneling, Persian rugs and ornamental fireplaces all add to the old-world charm (1087 & 1750 Beacon St; from US$110).

An Italianate mansion located in the bohemian Jamaica Plain area, TAYLOR HOUSE has been lovingly restores in more recent times .three guestrooms are decorated with bold, contemporary art and furnished with polished wooden floors and sleigh beds (50 Burroughs St; from US$142).

Despite the name, you don’t require any membership to stay the night at THE COLLEGE CLUB – a guesthouse run by an all – female graduate society (but open to male visitors). Bay windows and spacious rooms are typical of the Victorian houses in this part of the city (44 Commonwealth Ave; from US$150).

Dating back to 1882, the NEWBURY GUEST HOUSE occupies three interconnected townhouses on Boston’s historic Newbury Street. Period rooms come with moulded ceilings and carved mantles (261 Newbury St; from US$158).

A swanky hotel in a downtown high-rise, OMNI PARKER HOUSE is hands down Boston’s most historic hotel – Charles Dickens lived here for two years, Malcolm x worked in the kitchen, Ho chi Minh was a pastry chef and the Boston cream pie – the official state desert – was invented here (60 Scholl St; from US$205).

Pale and Interesting just of Harvard Square is the perfect place to while away a few hours – John harvard’s brew House. After a day walking the Freedom Trail, catch the subway – the T – to Cambridge and order a pint of John Harvard’s Pale Ale and some ale-battered onion rings. Here is an excellent examples of an American brew-pub; fantastic beer brewed on site, delicious food and a relaxing atmosphere (33 Dunster St; mains from US$9).

Get your claws into, if you’re after big buckets of crabs – from Jonah to bleu, snow to Alaskan-suggest a visit to the Barking Crab. The hearty menu also offers up lobster, clams, crayfish, shrimp and swordfish. Join in the jovial atmosphere by eating at the communal picnic areas overlooking the water (88 Selleper St; mains from US$13).

Where it all began. A visit to Faneuil Hall, also known as the ‘Cradle of Liberty’, is also recommended by forum users-a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742, it was one the site of much revolutionary rabble-rousing and inflammatory speeches encouraging American independence from Great Britain. It is normally open to the public and you can hear about the building’s history form National Park Service Rangers (free).

Boston’s tourist board has details of accommodation options. Also, read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic American novel of 1850 The Scarlet Letter, set in 17th-century Boston (Us$9, Vintage Classics).

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